Consoles Vs PCs: Why I'm A PC Gamer

I haven't bought a console since the original Xbox back in 2001. Why? I already have a gaming machine with better graphics, a better controller and more flexibility... and it didn't cost much either. I'm talking, of course, about a PC.

Mouse picture from Shutterstock

This is one of our point/counterpoint articles, where two Lifehacker writers duke it out in two articles over a specific topic. If you want to see the counterpoint to this post, check out Why I'm a PC Gamer.

You've probably heard us PC enthusiasts (in some cases, PC snobs) extoll the virtues of the PC a hundred times before, but there are a lot of myths out there I think many people — including some PC gamers — ignore. Not every gaming PC requires a lot of money, a lot of tweaking and a smug superior attitude to enjoy. So I'm going to try to explain, with logic, why I'm a PC gamer — without ever using the phrase "PC master race".

Keyboard-and-mouse trumps any console controller

Why I'm a PC Gamer

Let's start simple. Controllers are fine, and they offer you a sit-back-on-the-couch experience that, frankly, is much more relaxing than sitting at your desk with a keyboard and mouse. But the latter is easier to use, has a much better degree of precision (without auto-aim, at least), and a lot of variety (from gaming mice to mechanical keyboards, choices abound).

Plus, provided your game supports it, you can customise hotkeys all over your keyboard rather than the small number of buttons on your gamepad. All of that, combined, makes for a much better way to control your game. Can you imagine a game where PC gamers were allowed to play against console gamers? It would be a slaughter, all thanks to the mouse and keyboard.

PCs have higher graphics potential

You've heard this a million times before, so I doubt I need to reiterate, but I will for argument's sake. PCs have much better graphics (or at least the potential for better graphics) than consoles. Even with midrange hardware you can play a game with sharper textures, less aliasing and farther view distances than you do on your consoles. And as the consoles get older, this becomes even more apparent.

See the above Battlefield 4 video for an example. One of the best shots is around the 1:00 mark — look at the construction equipment in the distance. The PS4 graphics are incredibly jaggy, while the PC version produces a wonderful straight line. (Be sure to watch it at 1080p, the differences obviously aren't noticeable at 360p.)

PCs are more flexible and upgradable

Why I'm a PC Gamer

Better graphics are nice and all, but what really makes the PC shine is that you can upgrade the hardware as often (or as little) as you want. The PlayStation 3 was around for seven years before an upgrade. If you built an equivalent PC when it launched, you could upgrade the graphics card after three years and have a machine that absolutely stomped the PS3 in terms of graphics.

More importantly, you can tweak your graphics settings on a PC and decide what's important to you. Would you rather have high resolution textures up close? Make that a priority. Would you rather be able to see far into the distance? Turn the textures down and crank up the view distance. For me, shadow quality is a last resort — so I put my graphics power toward making everything else look amazing, and having crappy shadows which (to me) are barely noticeable.

Of course, a lot of people don't like the idea of tweaking their games to infinity, and that's OK too — you don't have to, despite what a lot of people claim. With programs like GeForce Experience, you can have all your games set up optimised for your hardware and get a balance between quality and performance with only one click.

And this is just the beginning. Want to play in your living room with a gamepad? A PC can still do that. Want it to have built-in media center features, like the Xbox and PlayStation? You can do that too, for free. With a PC, the world is your oyster, and you can make it the perfect gaming machine for your wants and needs.

PC gamers can mod, and mods make your games infinitely more awesome

Modding has become a popular pastime in PC games, and it doesn't take a lot of effort to install a few mods and make your games look amazing — especially older games that may not hold up as well out of the box. But even with newer games, it will completely change your experience. Have you ever played Skryim (pictured above) with mods? Going back to a console version afterwards feels like you're playing Morrowind on 2002 hardware. But it's not just graphics either. You can add new quests and missions, new items and armour, new game mechanics, UI elements and just about anything else you can think of, including a dancing bear.

The price myth: PC gaming doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg

The biggest argument against PC gaming is that it costs a ton of money, and this is absolute bull. You don't need to buy the latest parts and have a tricked-out $5000 gaming machine. Even a lower midrange graphics card can get you better graphics than a console, especially as you get later into a console's lifespan. You can build a solid gaming PC for about $800, and while it won't be the best gaming PC on the block, it can still be better than a console.

But here's the really important part: You can't compare the price of a console to a PC directly because your PC will be used for so much more — only a portion of the PC's cost is going towards gaming. If you're in the market for a new computer, going from a regular home PC to a gaming PC only costs a couple of hundred dollars more. Even if you spend an extra $600, you've still spent just as much as you would on a PlayStation 4, but for a PC that can do so much more.

Secondly, let's not forget a lot of the hidden costs in console gaming. You're putting down more than just $500 for the console. You also have to pay close to $100 for each game, plus whatever the online subscription costs are if you want to play online. On the PC, these costs are much lower. Thanks to digital distribution and a lack of licensing fees, PC games are a bit cheaper than console games, and drop in price much faster (not to mention get super-steep discounts during sales). In the long run, those costs add up much faster on a console than they do on PC.

To be clear: I'm not saying PC gaming is cheap. I'm saying that the "PC gaming is expensive" argument is false. You can easily pay a similar amount to what you'd pay for a console for similar or better performance — and you can pay a little more for much better performance.

They're two different beasts

Why I'm a PC Gamer

Of course, at the end of the day, it's all personal choice, and there are legit reasons to be a console gamer as well, and both platforms have things the other doesn't. I'm not trying to convince you that you should all switch to PC and consoles should go extinct. I'm merely pointing out some of the myths surrounding PC gaming, and all the benefits you can get by putting up with a slightly more involved, less plug-and-play experience. It's well worth it.

This story has been revised and updated since its original publication.


Comments

    The continued reduction in cost for PC gaming - especially for the actual games - has seen my PC gaming increase dramatically in the last year alone. It's still only around 20% of my gaming time. But it could easily grow as the platform becomes easier and easier to use.

      I'm always shocked when I try and buy a game on my Wii U or 3DS and have to actually pay retail price of 60 to 80 dollars, rather than shopping around, buying CD Keys or using VPN's and getting brand new games for $40 or less on PC.

    Being a PC only gamer pretty much means you have to give up the latest and greatest Japanese games (except some Capcom ones), meaning no mario, zelda, metroid, metal gear, final fantasy and countless others, which is unacceptable because they're some of the best games in existence
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KIg7ayGz38
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpIwcblsO_k

    Mouse and Keyboard is better for FPS and Strategy games, but a usb or bluetooth controller is required for anything else

    Other than that, I agree with everything else

      Whilst Im a PC gamer, I do have a PS3 and a 3DS and Wii, for the reasons you've specified. I guess that's why I had no desire for an Xbox because either the games it had I could get on PC, or it didnt have anything the Japanese games I enjoy

      I played all those games fifteen years ago.

        You played Mario Galaxy and MGS4 15 years ago?

          You know exactly what I meant! :P

          I was just being a pain though, I try to keep somewhat on top of Nintendo releases and I am still hankering to play both the Last of Us and Uncharted games.

      MGS Phantom Pain and Ground Zeroes are out on PC.

      With the exception of FF and MGS every other one of your examples covers anyone who doesn't own a Nintendo console.

      Last edited 17/08/15 9:49 am

    Small caveat, Keyboard and mouse is better for games that were designed for them. Games that were designed around the control pad are better played with a control pad (surprise, surprise!) even if you are playing the PC version.

    True PC gamers have a control pad in addition to the KB+M

      Games that were designed around the control pad are better played with a control pad

      sad thing is, some of these games should have been developed for M+Kb instead or at least ported properly. but because of stupid console market share, its programmed for the lowest common denominator

      Last edited 28/11/13 1:23 pm

      example: driving or flying in GTA V, for me, is much much easier with a xbox 360 controller. i can still do it with keyboard and mouse, my reaction times are a bit off. of course this is just a practice thing. most driving games though are better using controllers over keyboard.

        Which is why racing/driving games are a great format for cross platform play, anyone not playing without a pad is at a disadvantage. The fact we don't get cross platform play in these games is frustrating.

    tricked-out $200 gaming machine
    I think your missing a 0

      Hahah was going to say the same thing. Man, this Pentium 4 is really K-Rad

      Check out this little puppy. http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/nuc/nuc-kit-d54250wyk.html

      Tiny package for less that $500 that's capable of playing just about any game on the market right now (... and I know, because I do. It place Black Flag on my TV very nicely). Integrated graphics do not mean crap graphics anymore. That idea is soooooo last decade!

        that's JUST the Tower.

        Keyboard
        Mouse
        Monitor
        Speakers
        Game pad
        ect...

        Its also not a good tower for gaming seeing as though you cant get a dedicated GPU.
        Also lack of upgrading ability kind of takes away one of the best parts of PC gaming.

          First: NUC is terrible value for money. It looks cheap, but that's because it's basically just a all-in-one motherboard and intel CPU. Add SSD drive, Memory etc, and you could've built a better tower with far more expandability for the same or less.

          Second: Keyboard, Mouse - $30. If you're 12th best in the world and looking to beat the 11th best in the world, maybe a $500 keyboard & mouse will make a difference. If you're comparing PC to consoles, 104 keys and an optical mouse is all you need, and that's $30.

          Monitor, Speakers, Game Pad - either you've got them already, or a $3 HDMI cable into your TV gives you speakers and monitor, and there's no need for a Game Pad. Ever.

    Never really been a console gamer, mainly because at my age I no longer have the reflexes needed to twitch a console gamepad, and having said that, please stop porting console games to PC without doing due diligence to the controls...!! I have a very powerful machine, hell, in my house I have three, there are very few games out there that I can't run, but in the last couple of years, there have been very few I've wanted to run...! Really hoping that the upcoming release of "Star Citizen" is going to be worth being an early adopter...! :)

    Last edited 28/11/13 10:23 am

    I actually got into PC gaming because it was cheaper. The fact is, you'll probably spend a lot more on games than hardware no matter what platform you choose. The games cost massively less on PC (though PS+ is pretty awesome too). No I just have consoles for the exclusives.

      well hardware just has a slightly higher initial investment cost

      my 4yr old gaming rig (used for highly intensive internet browsing most of the time) has had its graphics card upgraded 4 times. Its only cost me $100 a year to do it because i buy from Amazon and resell for marginal depreciated amounts
      thus allowing me to max out every game

      Even if i didnt do that, i would still have been able to keep up. The point is, most CPUs are enough for games, and the only upgrade you need after your initial investment is maybe more ram and a new GPU every few years

    OP forgot to mention:

    Occulus rift
    Multi monitor setups
    3d gaming
    120hz gaming
    unique cases and lighting customisation
    easier diagnosis and troubleshooting
    being able to surf the web (and multitask - like reading a walkthrough at the same time)
    Using trainers to blast through SP storylines faster

    basically a console is a PC with less features and a locked down OS

    #GLORIOUSPCMASTERRACE

    Last edited 28/11/13 1:29 pm

      Not to mention Shift+Tab in steam games to the browser and dominos website so you can order Pizzas on a HUD overlay over your game quickly and easily.

      To be fair, I love my PS3 for FIFA and some other sporting games. But anything else is PC all the way.

        I have played FIFA a lot on my mates PS3 and still find it loads faster and runs just as well on my HTPC with xbox 360 controllers.

    Totally disagree with your first point. Sure you might have more control and more functionality - but at the expense of reduced realism. A gamepad might not recreate the exact feel or control system of whatever real-life action you're undertaking in the game, but it's alot closer to a natural feeling because you're HOLDING something, pulling triggers, moving joysticks - It feels "gamey".
    PC gaming is boring BECAUSE you have all that control and functionality, pointing with a mouse and moving with arrow keys is simply not fun. If PC controls raised up to the level of console gamepads, I'd probably swap to PC gaming too.

      Seriously? Pulling and pushing on little sticks is akin to running through a battle field and looking around? Holding a little chunk of plastic limply in your fat lap is comparible to holding a gun or a sword or anything else in a game? With the exception of the trigger on the game pad for pulling a trigger on a gun, your argument is stupid.

      "PC gaming is boring BECAUSE you have all that control and functionality" Just... no... seriously... just... leave now.

      This argument is pretty outdated these days, considering how many PC gamers use gamepads. I'm predominately a PC gamer, and love having the flexibility to switch between my xbox 360 controller and keyboard/mouse depending on the game I'm playing.

      Maybe before you play you could stab yourself in the leg so it would be like being injured on the battlefield and slowly bleeding to death while you try to shoot the enemy. Or maybe on a fighting game have a mate stand next to you and punch you in the face every time you get hit on the game, cause you know realism.

      If PC controls raised up to the level of console gamepads, I'd probably swap to PC gaming too

      not sure if retarded or just mis informed

      You can use both PS3 and Xbox controllers on PC

      and a joystick is available in the form of belkin/razer nostromo gamepad that is not only more ergonomic but gives you same features as a gamepad

      i would hardly say a gamepad adds realism simply because it has triggers.
      You are still holding something - a mouse
      Triggers and joysticks are literally only 2 things. They arent even positioned accurately as they would be on a real weapon

    Here's something I wrote in my misguided youth: http://www.goodgearguide.com.au/slideshow/371675/10_reasons_hate_pc_gamers/

      That was a terrible article Chris, and you should feel bad for writing it.

      My god that was a difficult read... so many misguided comments

      especially this
      The whole 'e-sports' phenomenon is surely one of the most try-hard, laughably unimpressive professions in the world: and yet we're supposed to take these 'athletes' seriously.
      Twitch tv laffs in your face now!

      also that comment about piracy sounds straight out of an MPAA/RIAA/MAFIAA handbook

      Quickly looks at the timelines..

      Anony • 5 years ago
      Technocality • a month ago

      Ye Gods, man - what have you started ? They are still arguing about it today

      You're going straight to Hell.
      Do not pass Go.
      Do not collect $200

      That comment section is impressively toxic.

      Also, I want to call Poe's law on the entire thing, either that or deliberate pandering to the lowest denominator. Surely it couldnt have been entirely serious.

    Don't forget that certain ISP's will allow you to download your Steam games for free without using your data. I highly doubt that is the case for a console in Australia which again, is an added cost against consoles. It may be in America but I would say only a select few.

    Here's the thing about that graphic video - both of them look terrible if you're measuring them by realism. You'd have to be brain dead to think either of those were footage of actual humans. You can get on your high horse about which one has more detail but neither look real.
    The only way to judge them is by side by side, and unless someone is playing the same game on a PC next to your TV screen you're never going to look at them side by side. The difference then becomes mostly irrelevant. Unless you're making a leap down to PS2 levels it's not going to dramatically impact the experience.

    Both systems have their advantages, but just keep in mind that in that Battlefield 4 clip the graphic detail level you're now blasting on the PS4 is what you would have bragged about when it was PC vs PS3. Those graphics didn't make you vomit a year ago so why are they suddenly an unplayable mess now?

      No way, when I go from playing my PC to playing a shooter on a console I find it choppy and annoying, the extra frames you get from the PC make it so much more responsive and enjoyable in my opinion. Haven't played the new generation of consoles yet so this is more referring to PS3 and 360, although from what I've heard so far you're still running at under 60FPS and I'm definitely one of those people that can notice that, even without a side by side.

      your thinking photorealistic textures

      the comparison between PC and console is more around framerates, resolutions, COMPARITIVE textures (not comapred to real life)

      your comment is just about the state of current gen physics and graphical limitations...which by the way are being stifled by Console

      compare BF4 which is meant to be "next gen" with Star Citizen which is PC only
      or even ARMA 3

      Last edited 29/11/13 1:22 pm

    PC gamer here (with rarely used PS3 & 360 for exclusives), I use Nvidia Surround on three 27" monitors at 7680x1440 total res to play games. It is incredible, what more can you say. And everybody I know agrees, but they all stick to consoles anyway because they see PC gaming as a hassle. Two of my friends even have powerful gaming PC's I have built and don't use them because it's 'harder' than simply laying back on the couch. Fact is unless people really care about games they won't want to do anything more than the minimum even if they would potentially save money and have a better experience.

    I'm a PC gamer because I can afford to be top tier. Well not stupid tier but my vid card and CPU never go back further than second gen. I wish consoles came out in standard and pro editions. COD XBone 720 and COD Xbone 2160 editions. Also Mouse and controller combo is best. It was possible in the latest tombraider but not perfect. No movement once aiming with the mouse. Wii nunchuck and mouse FTW

      whole point of a console is that they only need to program for 1 common setup and easier to optimise

      what you propose is essentially a PC (or steambox!)

      but seeing as how steamboxes are now real and software optimisation software profiles like Geforce experience exist, this should no longer being a feasibility issue

      Now its trying to convince Publishes not to make lucrative profits off console peasants who pay premiums on their difficult to pirate games

      Last edited 29/11/13 1:35 pm

    I was always a PC and Arcade gamer and my friends slammed me for being one and not having a console way back in the early 90s. I totally agree on the money side of things, that is probably the main reason for not me not ever owning a console until 2002.

    It is very expensive one you get in to it, but it is also a lot a fun playing those titles you just don't get on the PC. Having said that, now I only turn on my ps3 to watch blu-rays if I ever need to which is a shame really, I have clocked all my insane hours of MW2 and Skyrim on it. Yet, now I find myself having racked up over 200 hours again on the PC just because well.. MODS! haha. My PC is 6 years old and only now showing signs of wear an tear. I decided to give it a last graphics boost by buying an x260 r7. All of a sudden I could play Skyrim beyond the console settings with heavy mods. I was so darn happy. It only cost me $90 to replace my older card, and Farcry3 never looked so darn great.

    WHAT YEAR IS IT!!??
    {insert Robbin Williams pic here}

    Last edited 17/08/15 9:24 am

      Threads from beyond the grave!

        Jesus Christ you're right! Also sorry jesus, is this your doing?

    I play both PC and Console games. PC is great for WoW and Hero's. Console is great for lying on the couch with the wife and pooch, relaxing in front of the 50" plasma and stereo, while eating chips and yelling at each other while playing Assassins Creed Online.

    Metal gear phantom pain is a PC game...

    I've always been a console gamer, but I have built computers for the last 17 years (never for gaming though). I just started PC gaming this October, and I'm finding many benefits to it. I wonder why I didn't do it sooner. I think if a game exists on the PC, PS4, and XB1, I will get it for the PC. If a game I want exists only for a console, then I will get it on the console (PS4 preferably over the XB1).

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now